Once upon a time, back in the halcyon days of 2018, Fortnite fans were all aflutter over the sudden appearance of a malevolent cube in Battle Royale. As you'd expected, that eventually resulted in the entire map being whisked out of space and time by a trans-dimensional butterfly - but, now Fortnite is being terrorised by new nefarious geometry, this time in the form of a sphere.
The mysterious snow orb first appeared with the advent of today's 7.2.0 update, hovering above the castle courtyard on Polar Peak - once home to Fortnite's ill-fated Infinity Blade. However, unlike Kevin the cube, which would violently repel players that got too close on its debut, the new sphere doesn't seem to be doing very much of anything right now.
Admire it from afar and you'll spot a gentle flurry of snowflakes drifting around its hulk, while an ominous thrum vibrates through the air. And that low-key sound and light show is pretty much your lot at present - building a makeshift bridge to reach its position and then smacking it with a harvesting tool merely results in an entirely unsatisfying 'doink'.
Regardless of what the orb isn't doing right now, it seems reasonable to assume that its appearance heralds the start of Fortnite's next big in-game event. Previous seasons have seen, alongside Kevin's roving hijinks, a long-teased meteor strike, a disastrous rocket launch resulting in the appearance of a space-time rift in the sky, and the gradual arrival of an off-shore iceberg. Recent big events have favoured Fortnite's mid-season, and seeing as we're now six weeks into Season 7's ten-week run, it's a likely time for more shenanigans.
As for what the seemingly imminent event will bring, well, there are two ways to approach this. The fun, officially sanctioned way is obviously Epic's intended slow-tease reveal, and eager clue hunters have already discovered that putting the ice sphere's unearthly sounds through a spectrometer results in an image of the Ice King - seemingly the currently MIA lord of Polar Peak's ice castle. And given that the Ice King also features as Season 7's unlockable Level 100 Battle Pass skin, the community has already been anticipating some kind of return.
The other way to ascertain what's going on, of course, would be to brute force the game into revealing its secrets. And, inevitably, Fortnite's legion of data miners is currently doing just that. If you'd prefer to be completely unsullied then [BEWARE OF THE SPOILERS APPROACHING NOW]. As uncovered so far, it seems very likely that the snow sphere will act as a portal for the Ice King's return, with a countdown of sorts set to go live prior to his arrival. There's also evidence that he may bring an ice storm, as well as more PvE creatures in the form of the Ice Legion - and all this may be accompanied by special Ice Storm challenges [SPOILERS DONE].
Elsewhere, 7.2.0 introduced a briefly mysterious destructible ice block on one of the two small islands just off the map's south-west coast. After much communal hammering (damage was seemingly accumulative across all servers), the ice block is now gone, leaving an equally mysterious hatch in its place - similar to the persistently inaccessible one in the Wailing Woods.
Quite how - or indeed if - this new discovery ties in with the sudden arrival of that strange sphere above Polar Peak remains to be seen. One thing's for certain though: after a bit of a Christmas lull, it seems Epic is readying to kick off its 2019 Fortnite plans with a bang.